New Mexico man drives 8 hours to participate in Colorado Springs vaccine trial

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (KTRK) -- How far would you go for science? A New Mexico man has been driving eight hours round-trip to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial in Colorado Springs.

Byron Treaster, 77, is one of about 300 people in a Moderna Phase 3 clinical study at the Lynn Institute of the Rockies.

So far, Treaster said he's made the drive four times, with more appointments scheduled ahead. It's all for a 50% chance at early inoculation.

"I believe in science," he said. "What impressed me about Moderna, and Pfizer for that matter, is they slowed down the Phase III trials to get more people of color in the trials. So they wanted their cohorts to demographically mirror the United States."

Treaster's wife was also fully supportive of the long road trips.

"She's a school teacher and has just been heartbroken having to teach children remotely," said Treaster.

Half of the participants received the real Moderna vaccine. The other half got the placebo.

Based on his symptoms, Treaster is convinced he got the real deal.

"I had, for about 36 hours, periodic headaches, I spiked a fever after the second shot," he said.

The Lynn Institute is in the process of revealing to participants if they got the vaccine or not, a procedure called unblinding.

Treaster is scheduled to drive to Colorado Springs in March to find out for sure, but he's not in a hurry.

"Let's put it this way, if I got the placebo and got those side effects, then I am wildly psychosomatic. I've got a great imagination if that's the case," he said.

Treaster also said the trial is two years long, though participants are free to withdraw at any time. He said he has no plans to drop out early, however.

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